CHURCH THAT FOUGHT DISTANCING BURNED DOWN
A North Mississippi church that filed a lawsuit about a month ago questioning the city’s restrictions on gatherings burned to the ground with a disturbing, misspelled message spray-painted in front of its steps: “Bet you stay home now you hypokrites.”
First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs collapsed into smouldering ashes and rubble early Wednesday after an explosion ignited the sanctuary, Fox 13 Memphis reported.
Marshall County Sheriff Department criminal investigator Kelly Mcmillen told the outlet that authorities believe the fire was arson based on evidence located around the scene and a nearby hill.
Pastor Jerry Waldrop told the station that it was hard for him to wrap his head around knowing someone might have deliberately destroyed the church.
“We have really wracked our brains,” he said. “We have no idea, no enemies.”
Just weeks after the house of worship held indoor gatherings with dozens of people — and then sued to keep authorities out — it now finds itself enveloped in a mystery that has baffled residents of Holly Springs, a town of 7,600.
The church’s lawsuit claimed Mississippi’s “safer-at-home” order never prohibited religious services, and the state’s governor permitted houses of worship to welcome large groups if social distancing was in place.
Stephen Crampton, the church’s attorney, told WMC that the fire and graffiti were “very clearly directed at this particular lawsuit and the church’s stand for its own constitutional rights.”